21. Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA

What makes him powerful: As the head of the U.S. wireless industry's largest trade association since 2003, Largent has helped usher in a new era of wireless with an 86 percent market penetration rate. He arrived at CTIA after having served as a U.S Representative from Oklahoma from 1994-2001. While there, he was the vice-chairman of the energy and air quality subcommittee and also served on the telecommunications Subcommittee. 

Of course, many people know him from his days as a pro football player with the Seattle Seahawks where he spent 14 years and participated in seven Pro Bowls.

Following in the footsteps of Tom Wheeler, the past president and CEO of the CTIA, who championed the wireless industry during its time of great growth, wasn't an easy task. Largent has had to work hard to try to get out from under Wheeler's shadow and he hasn't always been successful.

Nevertheless, since becoming the head of CTIA, Largent has helped lobby Congress and President Bush to expand the reach of the wireless industry in the United States, where there are now over 262 million wireless subscribers.

He has waded into controversies both large and small, winning on issues like the growth of networks and access to spectrum. However, he has also lost a few battles, such as when he lobbied President Bush in the summer of 2007 to block a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling that banned the importation of certain Qualcomm chips because of a patent dispute. Bush upheld the ban. 

While it may seem that Largent's role is largely perfunctory--presiding over the keynote sessions at CTIA conferences for example--he has continued CTIA's role as a formidable lobbying force on Capitol Hill, akin to many other leading industries with seats at Washington's power table.

21. Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA